The Hurst Bible One of the...
The Hurst Bible
One of the best books published on the subject of Hurst collectibles is Dennis Kirban's Hurst Wheel and Memorabilia Collection. Dennis lived near Hurst's facilities in Glenside and Warminster, Pennsylvania, and became an avid collector of anything Hurst. His future wife, Eileen, even worked at Hurst in the 1960s. (We're sure that's not why he married her.) For over five decades, he's been researching and cataloging much of what Hurst produced, from wheels to cuff links to decals, and his book is loaded with information. It's available for $19.95 by visiting www.kirbanperformance.com, or calling 215-766-1611.
A deep-dish beauty ring was designed that reached to the center of the wheel. The ring also covered the wheel weights. These rings were retained to the wheel with spring clips. This also prevented the rings from being stolen while the wheel was on the car. Later, the clips were replaced with a ring that used a simple press fit between the spokes and over the rear of the rim. Two styles of rings were offered, a fully polished face with polished inner surface, or a semi-polished face with a "brushed" inner surface.
Hurst offered three different center cap designs. The standard cap was a flat, round chromed cap with the Hurst logo in the center. Available at extra cost was the chromed bullet-nose cap that had three Hurst logos or a chrome three-winged spinner with the Hurst logo in the center. A curved three-wing spinner was withdrawn from the market when safety and liability concerns for pedestrians were raised. All three of the caps were retained by two bolts from the rear, which prevented the caps from being stolen. Even the lug nuts were unique to the wheel, using a tapered mating surface. Lefthand thread nuts were identified by grooves machined across the flats of the hex.
During the course of the wheel's 4-year run, the spoke design was revised. The bead on the spoke's ribbed edge was changed from squared to rounded. This change was made mainly due to abrasion wear. The hub was also changed from a 5/8-inch thickness to a thinner 3/8-inch design and from webbed to unwebbed. The thinner hub was not webbed. The back side of the hub was also redesigned, with a deeply recessed oval at the lug holes, later replaced by a round recess measuring only .025 inch. Toward the end of the wheel's production, in an attempt to reduce costs and price the wheel more competitively, Hurst removed the stabilizer plate and simply riveted the spider to the rim.
The contest that resulted...
The contest that resulted in winning the GeeTO Tiger GTO was called "Count the Tiger." A 45-rpm record produced by Pontiac called "GeeTO Tiger" was offered in stores and received major radio airtime. Contestants had to guess the number of times the word "Tiger" was used, fill out a form saying why they should win, and mail it to Hurst. Hurst distributed copies of the record along with a copy for dragstrip PA announcers to promote during races.
Hurst came close to his goal of making his wheel OE when Pontiac considered it for the 1966 GTO. When plans for a version of the fullsized Pontiac's integral hub-and-drum aluminum wheel (widely known as the "eight-lug" wheel) for the GTO fell through, General Manager John DeLorean turned to Hurst with intentions of making the Hurst wheel an option. Ironically, while Hurst had worked so hard to make the wheel meet OE standards for strength, he had failed to make it light enough to pass GM's unsprung weight guidelines. When he refused to consider making the wheel lighter, Pontiac had no choice but to pass. Hurst's refusal to compromise his product's quality cost him an order for 35,000 sets of wheels, however, it underlined his personal commitment to building the best aftermarket custom wheel in the industry.
Each wheel was "warrantied for life" to the original purchaser (as long as Hurst's lug nuts were used) and received a serial number, stamped on the lip at the center of the spider. Buying a set of four wheels enabled the owner to receive a "Hurst Hustler" emblem, a jacket patch, and entry into the "House of Hurst" tents at major races.
The considerable amount of R&D that went into the wheel, along with the cost of materials, made the Hurst wheel more expensive than other aftermarket wheels. Unless you caught an advertised deal from one of the big catalog houses like $199 per set from Honest Charley, or $179 from Big Ed's, the retail price for the Hurst wheel was $69.50, and some dealers went as high as $74.50 by 1968. This price included the wheel, round center cap, and beauty ring. The tapered seating lug nuts cost $4 for a set of five. Add tax and the cost for mounting and balancing, and the cost of bragging rights for having a set of Hurst wheels would set you back around $350. That was a hefty bill for a set of wheels back in 1967, and one reason Hurst never achieved the sales levels he had envisioned when he launched his wheel back in 1965.